The Italian footwear industry is renowned worldwide for its outstanding craftsmanship and the production of high-quality shoes. However, in the face of rising raw material and energy costs, the industry’s main challenge is to ensure the exceptional quality of its products.

In this blog post, we delve into the challenges and needs of companies in the footwear industry and how IoT technology represents a potential solution to their issues.

Discover the in-depth case study of SPAC, our manufacturing client specializing in the production of anatomical polyurethane footbeds for sandals and removable insoles. They chose Zerynth’s IoT solution to extract detailed information from their aging machinery, with the aim of optimizing production efficiency processes and improving the quality of the final product.

The allure and challenges of the footwear industry 

The world of footwear is fascinating, intricate, and ever-evolving. With a global market exceeding $200 billion annually, this sector knows no bounds.

China leads in large-scale production, but the art of shoemaking is also reflected in places like Italy, renowned for its craftsmanship. However, the footwear sector faces some crucial challenges. The increase in the prices of raw materials such as leather and synthetic materials tests the balance between quality and cost.

Furthermore, growing competition demands innovation and distinctive designs to attract consumers. Sustainability has become a priority, with the adoption of eco-friendly materials and greener processes for optimizing production efficiency. Energy efficiency takes center stage, considering the rising energy costs.

Amid these challenges, the footwear sector embraces automation, digitalization, and personalization to meet the evolving needs of customers and thrive in a continuously changing competitive landscape. What is the role of IoT solutions in this context?

The footwear sector in figures

The Italian footwear sector continues to demonstrate its resilience and vitality in the first quarter of 2023, registering a surprising 13.6% growth in turnover compared to the same period of the previous year. These exciting data emerge from the surveys conducted by the Centro Studi Confindustria Moda for Assocalzaturifici, confirming the positive trend already observed in 2022 when the sector set a record with a turnover of €12.65 billion, a 23% increase over 2021.

One of the most remarkable aspects is the growth in exports, which continued to rise in the first quarter of the current year, recording a notable 16.1% increase in value. This underlines the attractiveness and expertise of Italian footwear on international markets.

The Italian footwear sector is a pillar of the Italian fashion system, representing a Made in Italy excellence. With around 3,700 companies and over 72,000 employees, the sector is a significant economic engine and job creator in the country.

Additionally, the positive trade balance, which reached €5.4 billion in 2022, demonstrates the ability of Italian companies to compete and conquer global markets with high-quality products and refined design.

IoT solutions to address industry challenges and needs

The steady growth in the Italian footwear sector is undoubtedly a sign of confidence and resilience, indicating a promising future for the industry. However, the energy and production efficiency challenges that are affecting most manufacturing companies in Italy cannot be ignored.

IoT solutions are indispensable tools for monitoring production flows, costs, energy consumption, and the quality of the final products by simply extracting data from any type of machinery, whether legacy or modern.

Rising raw material costs 

One of the main obstacles for footwear companies is the increasing prices of raw materials. Material quality is fundamental for producing top-tier shoes, but rising costs pose a significant challenge.

Monitoring energy consumption with IoT solutions means obtaining precise data related to the energy consumption of individual machines throughout the entire shop floor and identifying the most significant waste to intervene promptly and save energy.

Competition heats up as raw material costs soar

The footwear sector is highly competitive, both locally and internationally. To stand out, Italian companies must invest in innovation, design, and the creation of unique products that attract consumers.

One of the main obstacles for footwear companies is the increasing prices of raw materials. Material quality is fundamental for producing top-tier- shoes, but rising costs pose a significant challenge.

IoT solutions allow for optimal resource utilization, enhancing companies’ competitiveness. More efficient processes equate to higher overall productivity, making your product more competitive in the market.

Energy efficiency and sustainability 

With rising energy costs, companies must find ways to reduce energy consumption in their production efficiency processes. This can be achieved through the adoption of more efficient IoT technologies and the optimization of heating and cooling systems.

Consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious, and footwear companies must respond to the growing demand for sustainability. This means adopting eco-friendly production processes and employing low-impact materials; and all it’s now possibile thanks to IoT technology.

Flexibility in production

Being able to adapt quickly to market needs and produce small quantities of customized products is ever more important to meet customer expectations.

Process automation and business management digitalization can help improve efficiency, reduce errors, and optimize resource utilization. All of this is made possible through IoT solutions.

SPAC: Industrial IoT technology for production efficiency

While the challenges are undeniable, the opportunities to stand out through innovation, quality, and customer focus are equally important. The ability to adapt to changing market conditions and embrace modern technological solutions can be crucial for long-term success.

Italian manufacturing company SPAC, specializing in the production of anatomical polyurethane footbeds for sandals and removable insoles, faced the challenge of extracting detailed information from its aging machinery to optimize production processes and improve the quality of its final product.

iot solution

Fig. 1 Visualization Dashboard – SPAC

They chose Zerynth’s IoT solution that allows for real-time and remote data acquisition, facilitating monitoring, cost control, consumption, and production.

Automating this process was crucial to ensure fast and reliable access to machinery operation data. Furthermore, data integration with the management system was essential for more efficient and accurate production flow management, enabling eligibility for the Industry 4.0 tax credit and optimizing overall production efficiency.

Do you also work in the footwear sector and want to improve the quality of your final products? Read the full case study and request a demo from our IoT Experts!

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About the Author: Angelica Puddu

Angelica works in the Zerynth Marketing Team. She graduated in Digital Humanities, so she has a critical perspective of how digital technology is increasingly part of everyday life. She likes to manage and organize projects and, in her free time, she likes to attend theater workshops and play sports.

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